Xabi Alonso the final piece? + Arsenal squad review

Xabi Alonso the final piece? + Arsenal squad review

Hello there, happy Tuesday to you all. I know it’s not the best day of the week – heck, I’d say it’s probably the worst – but what can you do other than try and enjoy it? My sentiments exactly. Anyhoo, moving on…

It seems that Arsenal have made a move for Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso. According to reports Arsene Wenger has made an inital approach for the Spaniard with the hope of having his £18 million valuation reduced to something around £10.5 million – the amount that Liverpool paid Real Sociedad four years ago. Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, however, is adament that Alonso will not be going anywhere unless Arsenal fork out the dough.

Speaking after his side’s win over Rangers on the weekend, Benitez said:

“I don’t think it will be easy [for him to leave]. The value of Alonso in the market will be really high. We are really pleased with him and we don’t want him to go unless we get a very good price.”

With Gareth Barry almost certain of moving from Aston Villa to Liverpool it’s understandable that Benitez and the club want to get as much as they can for Alonso. But is he worth £18 million? It’s hard to say.

On one hand he’s 26, in the prime of his career and already seasoned Premiership player. On the other, if Barry comes in to replace Alonso then Liverpool will have a player who will be on the fringes and who – you would have to think – would be looking for a change.

Should he look over for a moment and see the gaping hole in Arsenal’s midfield and the huge opportunity for him then I think he might look to move. Liverpool won’t want an unsettled player and while Wenger might not want to pay £18 million for the Spaniard I can definitely see him forking out £12-13 million for him.

Personally I think it’s going to happen. Call it a hunch, call it whatever you want, but I think Alonso will be Wenger’s last signing this summer. And a mighty good one it will be. Indeed, should Alonso’s move go through then I think Arsenal will have a stronger squad than they had last season.

In goals, Manuel Almunia spent most of last season trying to prove that he was a more able goalkeeper than the outwardly vocal Jens Lehmann. He eventually won, rewarded with the Number One jersey and the knowledge that he will start this season as the undisputed first-choice goalkeeper.

In defence the personnel is exactly the same as last time around but the crucial fact is that each and every player is a year older. That means William Gallas and Kolo Toure’s partnership will be stronger, Philippe Senderos and Johan Djourou will have more vital experience under the belts and Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna… well… there’s really nothing to worry about there!

Time is also a big factor with regards to the midfielders Wenger has at his disposal. Arsenal may have lost Alex Hleb and Mathieu Flamini but I’d argue that the signings of Samir Nasri, Xabi Alonso (if it goes ahead) and Aaron Ramsey combined with the continued development of Denilson, Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott means the squad have more depth and quality than last time around. There’s more variety too, something that will become vital as Wenger tries to balance his Premier League and Champions League challenges.

There is always the possibility that Alonso’s move does not go through and if that proves to be the case then Wenger needs to look at other options to plug that central midfield hole. It’s not vital to the starting team – indeed, I’m confident that Diaby can start in there – but it is vital to the depth and overall quality of the squad.

Update: I should add in here the revelation that is Jack Wilshere. 16 years old and has just been rewarded with a spot in the first team. Outstanding stuff.

Up front there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Vitally, Emmanuel Adebayor has decided to stay and should he remain fit then there is huge potential in him forming an awesome partnership with Robin van Persie. The few times the pair got to play together last season they were highly effective and some of the combination play they exhibited against Real Madrid suggests the pair are ready for a big year.

As for reserves, I’d argue that no other club in Europe has as much depth and variety in attack as Arsenal do. Nicklas Bendtner is a year older and looks ready to play a big part this season, Carlos Vela has shown he can also be relied upon while Eduardo will return around Christmas and give the side the deadly finisher they lacked at crucial points last season.

So all in all I think things are looking pretty darn good. To be completely honest, just writing all that has got me bloody excited! I hope reading it has made you feel the same way.

Before I go today I want to mention a couple of exciting Arsenal FC Blog-related bits.

Firstly, for all those that have been asking – I have finally set up a Premier League Fantasy Football league for all the readers of the blog. The code you will need to enter is 647594-126298 and you can join the league here. For everyone who entered last season you should be automatically invited back in again.

Secondly, after some careful negotiations my good friends at Pikum have come up with a special offer for the readers of this blog. They’re giving away a no strings attached £10 for users to throw around on any of the pikums that I have set up. They’ve also been nice enough to throw a bonus £15 in the pot for the Arsenal v West Brom Pikum that I have set up for Round One of the Premier League. Check out all the details here.

For those that don’t know, Pikum! is a really cool social betting site where you try and pick results on all sorts of sporting events. In their own words: “Pikum is a fun game you can play with friends, co-workers, or fellow fans to see who’s best at answering the question… What’s going to happen?”. For more details go to their website here. I should also remind you that you don’t have to bet with real money, you can bet just for fun as well.

OK – that’s it. Thanks for reading and have a smashing Tuesday.

Have your say on Xabi Alonso or the Arsenal squad by leaving a comment.

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35 Responses to “Xabi Alonso the final piece? + Arsenal squad review”

  1. brdgunner
    August 5, 2008 at 5:29 pm #

    I cant see Liverpool moving on the price. And i would be surprised if we were willing to fund their tapping up of Barry. If we are willing to pay that then we could try for Barry. Although Alonso is the better player. Also Alonso could be a bigger part of Rafa’s plans than we give credit for. Barry could well play wide Left with Gerrard wide right. I’m not sure about Gerrard wide right however, i can see Barry playing left with Keane (spit) now at the club. COME ON THE GUNNERS

  2. iceman
    August 5, 2008 at 5:36 pm #

    if this happens….it’s gonna be unreal….xabi is the final piece.believe.

  3. michael leachman
    August 5, 2008 at 5:47 pm #

    According to Wikipedia we have signed Veloso, What!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Veloso

  4. rick
    August 5, 2008 at 5:59 pm #

    tapping up of barry? the news was released by the birmingham press first mate, so its not tapping up. also xabi really hasn’t been at his best for the last two seasons, barry is an up grade in almost every way with the exeption of long range passing and shooting, imo arsenal need an enforcer to play along side cesc not another play maker, there is no way that rafa will sell for less than 15mil because he has turned down 12mil from juve already, also i very much doubt that he will sell to a prem club because of all the knowledge he has concerning tactics and such,

  5. Spanish Fry
    August 5, 2008 at 6:03 pm #

    @ rick – I think Alonso hasn’t been at his best because he’s never been given a consistent go at it. He’s a superb player – I think if Barry comes then Alonso will leave. Let’s hope we get him.

  6. gunner 79
    August 5, 2008 at 7:14 pm #

    Hi brdgunner, although I am not a Keane Fan , I would appreciate you showing him a bit more respect, thank you. Now Alonso is not the age type he normally signs and he rarely goes into those figures in fees. I reckon he has his eyes on some former great on the fringe or in the doldrums in some european club that he’ll get for half that. Remember he did say that funds were limited!

  7. AndreaR
    August 5, 2008 at 8:50 pm #

    @ Rick – I agree, we need to enforce midfield with a fine tackler, not with another playmaker like Xabi..we have a lot of fine passers, but any defensive midfielder..we need someone who runs and tackles, protecting our defence and, IF POSSIBLE, attacking..we had Flamini, the only player in Europe able both in defensive and attacking role..but we lost him..we need another Flattuso, but more and more committed!!!

  8. Michael
    August 5, 2008 at 8:55 pm #

    I agree, Alonso would be a very good signing indeed. But he’s not worth £18 million and I think Liverpool’s evaluation is just ludicrous.

    If he comes hopefully it will be quick since slotting him into the squad will take a couple of weeks and with the new season around the corner any new player should arive soon.

  9. gAv GaV
    August 5, 2008 at 9:23 pm #

    if we don’t get alonso we will probably go for de la red. also we should go for a centre back e.g martin laursen or phllip mexes.

  10. GunnerGriff
    August 5, 2008 at 10:43 pm #

    If we’re going to give Liverpool that much (15 to 18 million), I want Javier Mascherano, not Alonso. He woould be the perfect fit right now for Arsenal!

  11. TDP
    August 5, 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    There us no doubting that Xabi Alonso is a fantastic player – I would reckon that 90% of Liverpool fans will be absolutely seething with rage if we signed him while they use the money for Barry. Most of them consider him to be better, and that the Barry move is merely so he can be with his boyfriend Steven Gerrard. It is a sad state of affairs when a player is dictating the transfer policy of his club. That said, I’ve said before that I’d love to see Barry in an Arsenal shirt.

    The only issue is whether Alonso is defensive enough. I know people will argue that Flamini wasn’t an orthodox DM, but he won the ball when he needed to and was in the caged animal Gattuso mould. Alonso is a deep lying playmaker who isn’t really a DM at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be delighted if we signed him and I think he’d link up well with Cesc, I just don’t know if he is defensive enough.

    What about Yaya Toure? Similar price if not less, Barca have signed Keita so he is now not in the starting line-up and he would link up with his brother. Not to mention he would provide the muscle in midfield to allow Cesc to strut his stuff. But Wenger doesn’t seem interested, and hasn’t been for a long time.

  12. Awwaliya
    August 5, 2008 at 10:58 pm #

    Wenger please sign alonso any amount he wourth it.

  13. bluuuuu
    August 5, 2008 at 11:29 pm #

    i think we should sighn alonso he wold link amazingly with cesc and would complete our side GO GUNNERS

  14. bluuuuu
    August 5, 2008 at 11:30 pm #

    wenger get yaya toure he has srenth and is a greatdm

  15. jay
    August 6, 2008 at 1:30 am #

    I think Alonso would be a very interesting signing. He is a DM as the 2nd half of last season Liverpool player a 4-5-1 with Mascherano and Alonso as DMs and Alonso can score to, even from his own half! The valuation of him however is too high and I dont think Rafa will lower it but if hes does AW should sign him!

    @ michael leachman – i think its just a glitch because it you you read about him it doesnt mention the signing or Arsenal, it jus says current club Arsenal, interesting still I know but i think its just a glitch.

  16. darragh
    August 6, 2008 at 5:43 am #

    Hrm. I still don’t think Wenger has a suitable replacement for Flamini. Denilison, Diaby haven’t really played that well in preseason. Perhaps they’ll put Toure in there (the man can do no wrong!). Alonso is not a holding midfielder. I don’t think Wenger has signed enough defensive players.

  17. darragh
    August 6, 2008 at 5:45 am #

    Actually, I would prefer Arsenal to sign Barry rather than Alonso…if they’d splash out a bit of cash. A much better deal! If and when Barry gets signed by liverpool, I get the feeling they will have a much stronger squad than Arsenal. I’d actually put a bet on Liverpool winning the title this year.

  18. butterfingers
    August 6, 2008 at 8:11 am #

    At that price I think wenger would rather de la red for 10 mill and he would have 1 catchy chant I can see the lady in red tune being used. Also is bischoff injured as he hasn’t been given a run out yet in pre season. Also wilshere has been given silvas shirt hope he wins us doubles and at this rate we will have another set of unbeatables in the next couple of seasons and I really hope the boys win the cc this year just because they deserve it.

  19. jay
    August 6, 2008 at 9:49 am #

    I totally agree with butterfingers about the cc squad deserving to win it this year and also about De La Red, however I wouldnt mind Alonso or Barry either. Is it ture though that Barry cannot play in the CHampions League because he has played for Aston Villa in the Intertoto/UEFA Cup now?

  20. Spanish Fry
    August 6, 2008 at 10:09 am #

    @ jay/butterfingers – They’ll only deserve to win the CC if they play well! Heh heh, don’t get ahead of yourselves lads!

  21. Demetrio
    August 6, 2008 at 10:38 am #

    I wouldnt mind having Barry or Alsono either but Id rather see Veloso at Arsenal.

  22. Spanish Fry
    August 6, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    @ Demetrio – I just don’t know enough about Veloso to recommend him. All we need is ‘another body’, as Wenger put it. I’d be happy with Diaby starting in the middle as long as we had quality cover and were able to rotate a little more than we did last season.

    Hopefully Wenger will learn from the mistakes he made when overplaying Flamini/Cesc.

  23. jay
    August 6, 2008 at 11:24 am #

    @ SF – lol yh we only deserve it if we play well lol but i mean we should have beaten Chelsea in 2-1 defeat and we should have won it at least once in the past 5 years so we deserve it this year, but only if we play well haha.

    @ Demetrio – Veloso has a high valuation, I know Barry and Alonso do aswell but as they have a lot of prem experience they are the more attractive signing. The reason why De La Red is an atractive signing is he is young and hasnt got that much of a high valuation and he is known to have a lot of potential.

  24. brian
    August 8, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    i think this will be the last piece to the puzzle ,alonso is a vital and experienced player that arsenal needs to fill the midfield hole.Personally i think arsene wenger should go with the 18 million asking price as alonso is worth that price so that he and fabregas can rule the central midfield

  25. kitch
    August 13, 2008 at 1:56 am #

    we dont need Alonso,hes too slow

  26. Zuluka Toure
    August 16, 2008 at 4:40 am #

    I think Alonso will be a perfect signing, but i prefare if we get Yaya from Barcelona and a central Defender. I believe it is our time now to lift a trophy either premiership or Champions league

  27. ayebanoa
    August 16, 2008 at 8:52 pm #

    he is good for the squad.

  28. Diamonds Soccer
    August 17, 2008 at 9:26 pm #

    What about Arsenal signing Barry instead? I would much rather Alonso staying and Barry going to Arsenal, which will not be a bad signing for them as he could be a calming influence for the younger players.

  29. Andre 2000
    August 18, 2008 at 8:30 am #

    Please!! Eboue protects our back 4 much better than Alonso would. Annan or Inler for me.

  30. goonernumber1
    August 18, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    alonso coming to arsenal will be sooo interesting since hes a great playmaker and knows cesc well….
    cmon you gunnners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  31. northyorkshiregonner08
    August 19, 2008 at 7:14 pm #

    I think that xavi alonso would be a ace singing for us gunners and he will ensure that aresnal will win trophies this season COME ON U GUNNERS

  32. okabeng
    August 29, 2008 at 11:22 pm #

    i thnk wenger is a very selectv manager, he gut the perfect eye indeed, goin for xavi is a jackpot but um against the reds for hiking the valu and sayn they cant let him go til the set valu is given, xavi is not an item but a person who have desires, y cant they ask him if he wanna leav at wenger’s price or not, meib they’l end up shatterin his dreams at the expense of barnitez’s price..go wenger and get alonso, i rily like his play and as a gooner i urge you not to withdraw……convins em!!! gunners for life

  33. David oluwaseun aka otunba gunners
    September 10, 2008 at 2:35 am #

    Up gunners,what i thnk its our problem really is emmanuel adebayor,he is really deducting our goal.Instead of him scoring 10 free goals in a match,he ll struggle 2 score 2.so wenger should make arrangement 4 smthing cause we want 2 win d champ league &premiership tittle dis season.

  34. Hattie Reid
    November 13, 2008 at 12:33 pm #

    h7ve8l1wuahr7qqp

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  1. Arsenal FC Blog | Silvestre linked with Arsenal as Appiah also becomes an option + Wednesday Poll - August 20, 2008

    […] I was convinced that it would be Xabi Alonso, but his appearance for Liverpool against Standard Liege means he would be cup-tied for the […]

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